You Got a License for Those Kools?
Governments routinely restrict the sale of dangerous drugs. The same goes for firearms. But another deadly consumer product—cigarettes—can be purchased by virtually any adult, pretty much anywhere, in any quantity.
“There would seem to be a case for redressing this bizarre but historically based inconsistency,” Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney, argues in an opinion piece just posted on the online journal PLOS Medicine. He goes on to offer a creative answer: One should need a license to buy tobacco products.
His detailed proposal, and a thoughtful response from Jeff Collin of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Public Health Unit, make for intriguing reading.
Chapman has thought this idea through quite thoroughly. “All smokers would be required to obtain a smart swipecard license to transact any purchase form a licensed tobacco retailer,” he proposes. “There could be three grades of license: one to 10 cigarettes per day, 11-20 and 21-50. The more cigarettes a licensee opted for, the higher the fee.”
He proposes “for the sake of illustration” that the fee be set at $100 to $200 per year (in U.S. dollars), which would be fully refundable if one kicks the habit. This sort of financial reward could “stimulate cessation,” he argues, adding that the upper level of 50 cigarettes per day could “act as a barrier to unplanned ‘binge’ smoking that occurs now, particularly when alcohol is involved.”